Coloradoscaping Definition


  • Landscaping for where you live: Coloradoscaping emphasizes the use of plants that are native to the state of Colorado and the Western US, inherently thrive in Colorado’s different climates and conditions, and celebrate Colorado’s natural beauty.
  • Climate Resilient: Many of the plants native to Colorado and the Western US have extraordinarily deep root systems which help draw carbon out of the atmosphere, retain soil moisture, and mitigate flooding to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Waterwise: Many Colorado and regionally native plants are drought-tolerant and can survive with minimal to no supplemental irrigation once they are established. This translates into lower water bills and reduced strain on Colorado’s limited water resources.
  • An ecological problem solver: Native plants are more apt to provide the host plants and essential food sources that Colorado’s declining bird and insect populations need for survival, therefore they are the first choice for supporting biodiversity.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Colorado’s local and regional plants provide a wide palette of colorful, long-blooming flowers and ornamental grasses that are adaptable to any landscape design style.
  • Low-maintenance and cost-saving: Choosing plants that are inherently adapted to a site’s soil conditions and climate provides greater resilience and can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for supplemental watering, soil amendments, fertilizer, and pesticides. This means less labor and lower maintenance costs.
  • Using the best practices for your specific site to maximize irrigation efficiency, eliminate pesticide use, shrink the carbon footprint of landscaping, and support pollinators and wildlife.

Why replace the term “Xeriscaping” with “Coloradoscaping?”

Xeriscaping focuses solely on landscaping with drought tolerant plants and the term has negative associations for many people.

Coloradoscaping promotes colorful landscapes that can simultaneously preserve limited water resources, restore declining pollinator populations, mitigate the impact of flash floods, improve air quality, and draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Climate change and biodiversity loss call for a landscape solution that is both waterwise AND that has broad positive environmental impact.

Doesn’t Xeriscaping do all this already?

Not entirely. Xeriscaping emphasizes drought tolerance but does not focus on the geographic origin of a plant or overall ecological value. Native plants have particular value because they provide host plants to the native insects and invertebrates with which they co-evolved. We are facing an unprecedented loss of biodiversity in large part due to native habitat loss. Increasing the use of local and regionally native plants in landscaping is one important action people can take to help sustain healthy ecosystems that support human health and all life on the planet.

Does Coloradoscaping have to be 100% native?

No, people to do not need to have 100% native landscapes to be doing something positive for the environment. There is room for people to include non-native landscape plants that they love (so long as they are not invasive), and to transform their landscapes in sections, as they are able. There are also some great non-native plants that are well adapted and beneficial to Colorado landscapes. More research is needed to determine the optimal proportion of native plants to sustain local ecosystem function in Colorado and which non-native plants and cultivars are also highly beneficial.

What resources are needed to spur a Coloradoscaping transformation?

Just as there was a learning curve for understanding the concept of xeriscaping, education outreach will be needed to foster understanding of which plants are best adapted to different parts of Colorado, and why they are ecologically important. Municipal water providers, and others can provide Coloradoscaping best practices, recommended plant lists, and designs to promote understanding and adoption. This public education effort also calls for collaboration with Colorado’s nursery industry to increase the availability of Coloradoscape plants.

Wild Ones Front Range Chapter can provide additional Coloradoscaping resources including an online Toolkit designed to empower people to landscape sustainably with native plants.

Contact: [email protected]